The Gayness of Mayor Pete

“Pete Buttigieg” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

>Are you butch or bitch?
Neither. Or both. It depends. It’s about the person, not what we do.

>This place is boring. Let’s go round the beats.
Er, no thanks. I don’t really like those places.

>What about that new sauna?
No thanks. I’ll give it a miss.

>Want to come to an orgy later?
Thanks for asking, but not really my thing.

>My place is just around the corner – let’s fuck!
Look, you’re a really nice guy, let’s get to know each other first.

>OK, you got 15 minutes. And then we’ll fuck.
Thanks, but no thanks. Hope you find what you’re looking for.

>You’re turning me down? You’re crazy! Oh, I get it. You’re not really gay, are you?
Not that kind of gay, no. That’s not what I am. That’s not what I want.

>Well honey, that’s all there is, so get used to it. Because there’s nothing else.

That was back in the 1970s, when I was first navigating the Manchester gay scene. But things are different now, aren’t they? Or are they?

I’m a monogamous, married, white, older, democratic socialist gay male, who has run three LGBTI newspapers and founded two of them, spent ten years in LGBTI community radio, been President of a rural LGBTI festival, served on an LGBTI ministerial advisory committee, and runs an LGBTI rights-focussed blog. Seems pretty gay to me – but not gay enough for some people.

It never has been. Back in the day when Denis Lemon, Martin Corbett and the rest of us were getting Gay News off the ground, we were excoriated by the self-styled “Radical Feminists” of the Gay Liberation Front as “straight gays”, not really gay activists at all.

Pete Buttigieg, openly Christian, married, monogamous, ex-military, Harvard graduate, Rhodes scholar, wealthy background, white, conservative – is being criticised for ‘not being gay enough’.

Well of course he is. He’s in love with, married to, and has sex with another man. I don’t know how much more committed to homosexuality you can get than that.

These ways to be gay are as valid as, for example, spending time at the gyms, bars, circuit parties, dark rooms, beats, and parks, hoovering up as many dicks as you can. I get that for some gay men, shaking dicks is like straight guys shaking hands.

But breadth and depth of sexual activities and partners doesn’t make those guys any more or less gay than Mayor Pete. Or me. Gayness is not measured on a dickometer.

I vote for candidates on the basis of their policies, not on what they do with their private parts, and how often. I could never vote for a gay LNP pollie, but equally, I won’t vote for a gay Labor pollie unless they are openly and actively working for gay LGBTI rights and equality inside and outside the party.

I’m sick to death of “allies”, gay or straight, who all too often turn out to be more like “fair weather friends” – with some honourable exceptions. I’m only interested in champions, who put LGBTI issues at the front and centre of their actions, regardless of the cost to themselves.

So Mayor Pete wouldn’t get my vote, not because “he’s not gay enough” nor because he’s “the wrong kind of gay”, but because when push came to shove I strongly suspect LGBTI issues would get shoved down the queue if they got in the way of his career.

And since people are going to ask anyway, if I had a vote in the Democratic primaries (which, as an Aussie, I don’t), I’d go with Bernie Sanders. But if Biden gets the nomination, then come the election, I’d vote for him.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)